No One Watches OAN

I am beginning to think that the outlet in which you actually receive your news is more toxic than than opinions you can draw from what you see (or are told to see). That is because now you can’t even get as far to give your opinion without someone having an immediate, prejudiced bias towards what you are going to say. We live in such a divisive news media that we can’t even trust our journalists to convey the same story, about the same thing, when looking at the same facts.

Yesterday, Oklahoma State head football coach, Mike Gundy, was threatened by one of his star players, Chuba Hubbard, that he was going to boycott the season for simply wearing a shirt of a fringe, conservative news outlet, OAN.

After realizing that in America you are actually allowed to have differing opinions, I think Chubba noticed how ridiculous this stance was and they ended up making some weird apology/make up video that noted they would work towards change. Progress, but still why does it seem that the second anyone hears/sees an opinion they dislike their first move is to cancel them? There is still some concern that Gundy could be let go.

But think about it, would there be the same outrage if he was wearing a ‘The Young Turks’ shirt? What about a Che Guevara or Mao shirt? What does that say about the political climate we live in?

Now I don’t know much about OAN, and I honestly doubt really anyone else does either. The only facts anyone can really give about them is they are extremely right wing (which even if you dislike it, is not a crime), Donald Trump likes their reporting (because it plays right into his base), they ran a conspiracy theory story about the 75 year old protestor in Buffalo (that has been discredited), and the liberal media hates when they get access to the White House (presumably because Donald Trump likes them).

But how do we really know Democrats don’t like OAN? Well because the weekly establishment mouthpiece John Oliver did an entire expose of them in early April. In an effort to completely delegitimize the outlet, John Oliver spent nearly 20 minutes ripping into their ideas, anchors, and reporters. To his credit, he does a great job. I recommend it, it’s funny. He makes valid points and this video has eclipsed 7.6million views.

In comparison, the OAN twitter account has just over 869thousand followers. For the record, they gained about 50k followers since this fake outrage broke out yesterday (they also sold out of t-shirts).

But, John Oliver has 5.4million twitter followers, and LastWeekTonight has over 8million YouTube subscribers.

So again, why did Oliver target this small news outlet? He’s one of the most viewed news shows in the country and as you can see from OAN’s reach, they are small potatoes. However, one of those small potatoes is in fact the President of the United States, which I can see why that may be a concern to people who are looking for a revolutionary change.

It could also simply be because, like I mentioned, Trump really likes their reporting. Remember, this Oliver clip came out in early April, before all the protests and riots. They ask favorable questions and write favorable stories towards the president, something that most media outlets proudly tout that they don’t. It could also be because they peddle conspiracies, yet so do other major news outlets.

But, when looking at their minuscule ratings, why do people feel the need to so outwardly discredit them? Shouldn’t their lack of viewership speak for that in itself? They are right wing, but like Chuba Hubbard seems to have realized, shouldn’t we come together to create change and have real, face-to-face conversations?

Now I like John Oliver, I think he’s really funny and does a good job of portraying the liberal viewpoint on issues. But that’s his job. Please, find me a single John Oliver video that crosses party lines. In his recent videos he has argued for defunding the police and mail in voting. These are clear, partisan viewpoints.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with that, and I don’t think that he’s wrong in a lot of the points he makes. But, when he is arguably speaking on behalf of party leadership and even breaking down their policy, it’s important to understand the significance of these videos. His show is a vehicle of information to subvert yourself in the democratic platform.

It’s also important to know that his goal is to use satire and comedy to not just embarrass, but also defame and delegitimize the other side. I’d argue he is looking to make conservatives out to be deplorables. For example, the tweet that he calls Trump a ‘creep’ for retweeting, is the anchor’s pinned tweet. Good try though, Mr. Oliver. The penguin segment is a hilariously bad analogy for Liz Wheeler, however. No argument here.

But if you made a John-Oliver-like video of John Oliver making a video, you could cherry pick enough facts, analogies, and clips to make him seem just as biased and hyperbolic as other radical news outlets.

Now, I understand that Oliver’s job is not really that of a news outlet, and that is why he has an advantage with the comedic slack to make these jokes and outlandish opinions. But that’s dangerous when he is one of the most popular, influential liberal-voices in media. It’s the Jon Stewart problem. But Vox even wrote last year that he is much more than just a comedy show, and his opinions on issues is a driving force for public opinion.

So yes, at heart he is a comedian, but people also turn to him for their news. Millions of people. When he blurs the lines between facts, hyperbole, satire, and opinion it becomes very dangerous. It makes people have crazy ideas about sources like OAN when in reality they probably have never even been on the OAN website.

I’d bet my life savings they haven’t watched any of their programming either, and for the record neither have I. This is because OAN is a fringe, 7 year-old media outlet that doesn’t have much influence over what anyone in the public thinks. You need to pay a monthly fee to even get access to their content on Facebook or RokuTV. No thanks.

Again, for reference, their top YouTube video has 3.9million views, just over 1/2 of Oliver’s video in views, and the clip I’m referencing was posted 4 years ago. They only have 34k subscribers on Facebook. So again why do they continue to try to make OAN a story? Well it seems because people want to build them up just so they can tear them down.

My opinion is the mainstream media shouldn’t give them the time of day, just make them earn it.

Something I was not expecting to learn from this research was that Ad Fontes Media actually ranks OAN as a more analytical source than Fox News and MSNBC. That was a surprise to me.

This issue isn’t even about OAN in general, yes, they are a biased media source and I know people will still judge me for posting about and even looking like I’m defending the network. Which I am not. But every news outlet is biased, and I think the one’s who hide like they aren’t that are the real threats to our democracy.

But bringing it back to Chuba Hubbard, the fact that someone can’t support a viewpoint in America and runs the risk of getting cancelled for an opinion is the opposite of freedom. In fact, it’s fascism. From even the highest levels of our supposed beacons of free speech, like the New York Times, there is a stigma going on in the country that if you don’t adhere to certain beliefs you should be “cancelled” and labeled a bigot.

Cancel culture is what is inhibiting progress, innovation, and real solutions to our problems.

It’s like a modern form of McCarthyism except everyone is shouting racist. Let’s restore innocence until proven guilty. Let’s restore working together to achieve great things. And let’s restore unity.

In almost every academic and professional setting I have ever been in, my teachers/bosses have always emphasized collaboration, diversity, and inclusion. Working together with differing opinions is how real solutions are found. So why does it seem that the opposite is being preached by everyone right now? Groupthink is the most dangerous disease to a business, project, or idea. The same applies for a society, look at the Salem Witch Trials.

Seriously, can we all just chill out and get along?

Cheers.

@jacklesser_ & @thoughtless44

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